Alumni Spotlight: Providing the Lifecycle of Learning
Following her passion,
this DCE alumna invested
in her own professional
development to become
a thought-leading trainer
for learners at all levels.
Erica Beggan is certainly one of those unique trainers that we will meet during our lives, and never forget, because they impacted us so significantly and built memories that will last a lifetime. In her own right, she has an unwavering ambition and commitment to play a pivotal role in training learners from various demographic groups.
During her extensive career, she has shared her expertise with youth who are learning how to leverage their talents; collegiate volunteers who are building capacity and sustainability to statewide providers; and other professional working adults who need to learn how to navigate a competitive job market.
“For me, it all comes down to this. I know that my core mission has always been to help others find their ‘ah-ha’ moment—using training and development as the catalyst.”
Erica is exceptionally driven and motivated to be the best in her field. And she left no stone unturned when it came to engaging in activities and pursuits that could help grow her career—like her involvement with the Association for Talent Development (ATD), a globally recognized nonprofit organization that purposely develops students and professionals for the world of work.
By 2017, Erica had secured a role within a Training and Development department where her primary function and purpose was to execute on her passion. “I learned what specific Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) were coveted in traditional talent and development positions. I realized that whatever curriculum development acumen I was able to bring to the table from my previous positions was just not going to cut it. It was predominately geared for instructor-led environments, and I quickly realized that if I didn’t expand my capabilities on the development side of training, I would become irrelevant.”
“By completing the UCI E-Learning Instructional Design program, I have been able to build my credibility on the development side of my training coin, which was exactly what I set out to do.”
E-Learning Instructional Design Program Graduate
UCI unveiled itself as an answer
As Erica progressed, she learned that UCI offers an E-Learning Instructional Design program. She believed that earning her certificate could play a part in her efforts to “seal the deal with future employers.”
Erica selected UCI for several reasons. UCI is a known and respected local university, it offered an eLearning program that has a strong reputation within the talent and development community, and the 100% online format was achievable for her as a working professional because it could be successfully completed within 9-18 months.
Erica adds, “Since ‘eLearning’ and ‘instructional design’ are both in the program’s name, I recognized that I would be provided with the curricular experience I needed to bridge the gap between the two.”
The impact of online education during a pandemic
It is no surprise that working professionals were impacted by the pandemic in significant, and perhaps even catastrophic, ways. The uncertainty of working life posed a great deal of stress and fear for many individuals.
When Erica was furloughed in March of 2020, she became acutely aware of the time she would have to complete the program, which seemed like an unintended win. “In a twist of fate, I was informed at the beginning of July that I’d be laid off by the end of the month—this was right as I started the practicum. But I found that the program transcended into a sort of catharsis. My instructor’s willingness to empathize and guide me while I was trying to keep it all together to succeed in the practicum was huge in helping me find success during a point in my life when I felt like everything was crashing down all around me.”
Networking in a virtual learning environment
Individuals seeking professional development might be hesitant to invest in an online program due to a belief that the virtual format may not offer a learning experience that helps them connect with peers and instructors on a personal level and work to expand their professional networks.
After years of developing and delivering online education, UCI has demonstrated through programs like E-Learning Instructional Design, that the virtual learning format is just as effective as face-to-face interaction, and the results present students with a variety of opportunities to connect with one another throughout their academic journey and beyond.
“I would definitely say my experience helped me meet and connect with other people that create new professional opportunities,” Erica said. “However, I would like to note that it is dependent upon ourselves to do our part to develop meaningful connections and not be transactional with the individuals we meet.”
UCI ignites change
Erica used her programmatic project management skills to accept a contract position in October of 2020.
She found that UCI helped her discover the prospect of change. “The most important changes I found are the ones that, again, were closely tied to the foundational elements of sound instructional design. By doing so, I’ve increased my confidence to recognize what is necessary to produce effective training.”
Erica is now in a position of legitimacy and power as a leader in her field. “By completing the UCI E-Learning Instructional Design program, I have been able to build my credibility on the development side of my training coin, which was exactly what I set out to do. In doing so, I feel even more aligned with my purpose and passion as a Training and Development professional. It’s the key reason why I can now say that I provide the lifecycle of learning while designing and delivering the fun, functional, and fulfilling to all my learners.”
Learn more about the E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate Program.